Striking Out in Life and the Personal Finance Game

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about what it takes for you inside to become a success in your personal finances. Most of the time, I get caught up and find myself pontificating about what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to shopping and buying. That’s the premise of Super Saving tips, I’ll admit. But whether you are ultimately a financial success really depends on more than that. Here’s what I mean.

If you don't do the right things, you'll strike out in life and in personal finance. Read on for the 3 strikes that will send you right out of the game.

While everyone says that they want and try to be successful in their finances, some never make it. I believe there are some valid reasons why people are unsuccessful in the personal finance game, but pretty often it’s because they are lazy, stupid, or just don’t give a damn. And sometimes, shamefully, it’s all three at the same time!

I swear to you I am so tired of listening to folks complain ad nauseam about their financial woes. You know the people, especially those who never had it, never try, and never will. They simply think that because others have made it to a sound financial footing, they are entitled to it as well. The simplest example of that one is this:

If your parents have scrimped and saved and wisely planned and guarded their money, well, then you don’t have to!

You believe you’ll simply get it from them in drips now and get the rest when they die? Good luck with that shortsighted whining attitude because it more than likely is just never going to happen. Woe to you if you are counting on it.

The Baby Boomers (me included) are notoriously spending their money and living a longer, healthier lifestyle. The money they have inherited from their parents is being burned too, so if you are in the generation that is next in line, you have an awful lot to think about.

Will You Strike Out in Life and the Personal Finance Game?

Strike 1 – Your Attitude and Your Money

You’ve got to have the right attitude about whatever you’re facing in life and money is no different. You have to accept that having money issues is something that happens to just about everyone, and certainly at least once in a while no matter whom they are or how much wealth they have accumulated. Even millionaires have to face down financial issues when they try to turn their millions into billions. You have the same problems, even if they are in a much smaller scale!

Hand and hand with attitude comes enthusiasm. It’s what your breathing is to your life. Without breathing, your death is imminent. The same is true with enthusiasm and attitude. Your enthusiasm helps how you respond to adversity. It is true that dealing with a financial crisis or problem can create a negative attitude and that response will often result in a failure. But, a positive attitude with enthusiasm for solving it can and often will ultimately lead to success. Your failures are almost always a result of bad attitude and your response or lack of it to unfavorable circumstances. Circumstances will and do color everything!

Circumstances

The word circumstance is literally defined as the circle that you stand in and are surrounded by. If you’re standing still, then you have to deal with those surrounding circumstances but if you’re moving along from accomplishment to accomplishment, then you are leaving your old circumstances behind and discovering new ones.

The right kind of attitude will turn trouble into a success. Your attitude about your circumstances is what takes you through these serious challenges of everyday living.

Strike 2 – Calling Yourself a “Victim of Circumstances”

Instead of thinking of yourself as a “victim of circumstances”, change your attitude. Circumstances are just challenges. These challenges are around for everyone, but not everyone adjusts their attitude accordingly. Be careful how you act and react to your circumstances, your attitude is showing.

If you’re just getting “fired up” in a single desperate flash, you might just flame out. I once heard someone say that a positive attitude and enthusiasm is all you really need to succeed. While it’s critically important to be enthusiastic and have a great attitude there is definitely more to this story. I personally have seen people get all fired up but then they have no clue as to what to do next. That’s because enthusiasm is never ever a substitute for preparation.

Strike 3 – Lacking the Preparation

You have heard it said many times that knowledge is power. That sounds nice, but it’s become a cliché and it’s not the whole truth. It’s not just the knowledge you have that makes a difference, but what you do with that knowledge. That makes the real differences in life and finances. It’s the increased knowledge and your required preparation.

That means there is a lot of work to be done to become a success. It may mean going to school, a university, trade school, or the school of practicality also known as the school of hard knocks. Whatever life’s path takes you down will give you the opportunity to learn and get prepared.

I might add right here that if you do need to go to school to prepare, there are still lots of ways to get the some aid or help. Yes, it does cost some money and will set you back. But you will gain such leverage in your finances that you will get back through the working years with increased income. Hopefully that starts at a young age and by the time you are making the important money decisions of your life, you are prepared. If not, remember it’s never too late to take the road to do it.

There are three types of people in this world.
Firstly, there are people who make things happen.
Then there are people who watch things happen.
Lastly, there are people who ask, what happened?
― Steve Backley author of “The Champion in All of Us: 12 Rules for Success”

How to Improve Your Chances

What kind of attitude should you have? People who become successful invariably have opened their minds and attitudes and have a long term time perspective approach to solving problems. These successful people look at timing when planning their daily, weekly, monthly, and annual strategies. They also think and plan 5, 10, and even 20 years into their future. They allocate the needed resources and make decisions based on how these choices will affect them and where they want to be years from now.

Visualizing

Then there is something called visualization. Studies have found that most great athletes, surgeons, engineers, and artists use affirmations and visualizations, either consciously or subconsciously to enhance and focus their skills. The great Nelson Mandela wrote extensively on how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude while being imprisoned for 27 years. He wrote about it in his autobiography.

Tony Gwynn, Hall of Fame Major League baseball player did the same thing and is another who swore by it. Visualization works well to improve attitude.

What this means is that you must take a long-term view of your career and visualize your success, what you want in life and in your finances. You must be prepared to work hard for months and years in order to build yourself to the point where you are earning what you are truly capable of earning. Then you can live the kind of life you most desire.

Final Thoughts

Most of us will not become financially independent just by wishing and hoping. Buying a lottery ticket every time the jackpot hits a few million bucks isn’t a really good plan, just as daydreaming that a rich relative is going to name you as a major heir in their will is not.

You must be willing to pay for success with hard work and effort over and over, for a long, long time to reach your true potential and goals. But as the challenges pop up, it will be attitude and preparation that see you through.

Are you someone who currently faces deep financial pressures? Are you dealing with that pressure or are you “wishing and hoping”? Do you have the right attitude to deal with life and your finances? Are you prepared for now and the long term too? What does success look like to you and your future self?

About Gary Weiner @ Super Saving Tips

Over the last 45 years I've worked in retail (department stores and supermarkets) and financial planning. In addition, I am a shopper, born and bred, who enjoys the challenges of finding the best items for the best prices. When I'm not busy saving money or writing here at Super Saving Tips, I enjoy baseball, music, and classic movies. I am retired and live in New Jersey with my wife.
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2 Comments

  1. I don’t really want to hire a financial planner, because I am frugal and I think I should be able to figure this out for myself. But maybe you can steer me to a good resource. I have a nice nest egg in my 401k and a reasonably healthy savings outside of my 401k. When I retire, how should I structure my withdrawals from my 401k? should I do it by fund, like bond funds first, stock funds later, and how often should I withdraw? once a month, once every 3 months, etc.?

    • Thank you so much for your great question. It’s not a simple one to answer. The starting point is to ask yourself this question: “What is my goal, passing on a significant amount of my assets to my spouse or family or using my assets for my own retirement expenses?”

      The four most common retirement vehicles are tax-deductible traditional IRAs, untaxed Roth IRAs, tax-deferred annuities, and taxable investments.

      To maximize your lifetime income, withdraw from your taxable investments first and supplement with any Roth IRA funds second. This will prolong the tax-deferral aspects of other funds like an annuity and traditional IRAs for as long as possible.

      Bonds are different from stocks in tax implications. When you own stocks, you don’t pay taxes on their growth until you sell them, and then you’re only taxed at the capital gains rate. Even dividends receive special tax treatment. But that’s not the case with bonds.

      Municipal bonds are tax-free at the federal level and if you buy them in the state where you live, they can be free of state and local taxes as well called “triple tax-free” bonds. However, corporate bonds have no tax-free provisions and have an immediate tax consequence because you typically receive income from them twice a year.

      When you take your retirement funds, weekly, monthly etc. will depend on your actual spending needs. If you are not heavily depending on the retirement funds for monthly expenses (because of alternate streams of income and Social Security benefits), then you can take it less frequently perhaps even annually. Just keep in mind after age 70 1/2 you must take an “annual” required minimal distribution (RMD) or face huge penalties if you don’t.

      It may be worth getting some professional advice about your specific situation but here is a great slideshow of free information about ways to draw upon your retirement funds you can check out in the meantime. Good luck!

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